▶ Watch Video: Pelosi says she’s confident in virus testing protocols on Capitol Hill

The following is a transcript of an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that aired Sunday, October 4, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She is just after Vice President Pence in the line of succession. That is the order that elected officials would take over the duties of the presidency if needed. Speaker Pelosi, thank you for joining us.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: Good morning. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given your important role in leadership, how regularly are you being briefed on the president’s status? And are you satisfied with the level of communication?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we’re getting our information the way everyone else is, in the media. But in terms of the succession, that’s an ongoing process. Sadly, at this time, it comes to the forefront. But let me just say on this Sunday morning, our prayers are with the president and the first lady and all those who surround him. Hopefully, the extent- the tracing, the contact tracing will give us an idea who needs to be treated so that the toll of this terrible virus isn’t even worse than it is. The president has the best of care. That’s what we want for him and the family. I’ve always prayed for the family, for their safety throughout the presidency, as I have done for all presidents. But it’s very- it’s the- he’s the president of the United States. We pray for his good health, his speedy recovery. But I hope it will be a signal that we really have to do better in preventing the spread of this virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: People always ask, what impact will this have on the election? I say, I’m not interested in that. What I’m interested in is what impact will it be on coming to the table with us and doing what we have to crush the virus, listen to science, have the public-private role that needs to be done to crush the virus. And so hopefully and prayerfully, and we wouldn’t pray if we didn’t believe there was a chance that there could be an answer. And so I pray that in addition to his health, that the president’s heart will be open to the millions of people who have been affected. Hundreds of thousands of families have suffered a death. And also to recognize that a preponderance of this- of the impact of the virus in communities of color–

MARGARET BRENNAN: And I want to– 

SPEAKER PELOSI: –that don’t have the kind of access to care that the president or the rest of us have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the possibility of providing more aid. But first, can you just clarify how frequently are you personally being tested and should you be quarantining?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, I was tested. I follow the guidance of our House attending physician and I was tested on Friday, a negative. But I also intend to be regularly tested. I’m pleased with the reliability of the testing in the Capitol. I think it’s better than what is at the White House or else the president might not have been exposed on the basis of a false negative that put him at risk- that may have put him at risk. We don’t know where he got it, but we do know that there was a negative test for somebody with close proximity to the president. So–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there any reason to believe that the source of the infection was Capitol Hill? 

SPEAKER PELOSI: Excuse me?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there any reason to believe that the source of the infection came from Capitol Hill?

SPEAKER PELOSI: I have no- I’ve never heard anything like that. I think that the optics of it are that those who were at the White House were the ones who brought the- the virus back to Capitol Hill. But again, let’s look at this in a larger sense of what it means to the American people. We need to have trust. We have to trust that what they’re telling us about the president’s condition is real. We have to have confidence in the judgment of the doctors who are treating him, that not only do they give a presentation notice- when they give a presentation to the press, it has to be approved by the president. That’s not very scientific. That’s not very scientific. So I think this can be a unifying moment for our country. We all pray for the president and his family. We all know that we have to do more to prevent this, —

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: –to crush this virus. And one way not to do it is to crush the Affordable Care Act, which the Senate is in the process of trying to do–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has there–

SPEAKER PELOSI: –with moving quickly on this judicial appointment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president- the president tweeted yesterday that the country needs stimulus.

SPEAKER PELOSI: It does.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that mean that you have come to an agreement or are close to a deal on a COVID relief bill?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, it means that we want to see that they will agree on what we need to do to crush the virus so that we can open the economy and open our schools safely. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’re no closer than on Friday when- when that airline deal fell apart?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well- well we are making progress. Well we were trying to get that done in the House, but the Republicans object- objected. But what I said to the airline executives in a public statement is, don’t fire people. You know, that relief is on the way. So, and it will be retroactive. So let’s keep them employed because, separate from other industries, when you’re fired- when you’re let go in the airline industry, it takes months or years to be recertified, reclassified all of that, security clearances and the rest. Not like if somebody has another kind of a job, they leave, they come back. So that’s- that makes a difference. But also–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Could that come this week?

SPEAKER PELOSI: That just depends on if they understand what we have to do to crush the virus. You can’t just say we need- we need to do something, but we’re going to let the virus run free. Now, it’s even run free in the White House. Think of how it is in a poor neighborhood where the president is insisting that children actually go back to school in order to get the funding that he is recommending. These poor kids are–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is- is–

SPEAKER PELOSI: –largely minority children. People exposed to the virus are largely minority. Everybody’s affected. But the death toll in the lack of- of testing and tracing in the minority community has had a very negative impact. So we have to be serious about this. One of the, let me just back up for a second and say this. For a long time, the Republicans in Congress and this president have been antiscience. They don’t trust science and they don’t believe in governance. So if science says you should be test- testing,– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: –tracing, treating, mask wearing, sanitation, separation and the rest and you don’t believe in science and you don’t want to govern to say–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well to that point–

SPEAKER PELOSI: –this is what you have to do, then you have more deaths, more spread of the virus. And- and you can see this even with denial on climate change, that we’re suffering these fires now. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well so–

SPEAKER PELOSI: They don’t believe in science and they don’t want to do anything about it, because they don’t believe in governance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Speaker, what about on Capitol Hill, since a number of lawmakers on the Senate side that- in just the past few days have tested positive.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your democratic colleague, Chuck Schumer said “this demonstrates the need for testing and contact tracing for everyone who works on Capitol Hill.” Do you agree with Senator Schumaker- Schumer, and are you working on that for lawmakers?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, he has a smaller body than we do on the House side. My confidence is in our- and I- I appreciate what he’s saying and others on the House side- Mr. Hoyer is saying something similar. But my confidence in this- respectful of those views, is with the House attending physician who will determine when it is necessary for us to have testing that helps confidence. Their suggestions about that- we have 20,000 employees on Capitol Hill.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SPEAKER PELOSI: It’s not just about the members of Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.

SPEAKER PELOSI: We want to be safe for the press who covers us, and their- and the custodians and the workers in the Capitol and the staff. So it is–

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s right. That’s why I was asking the question. 

SPEAKER PELOSI: Perhaps there could be some sampling. Let’s depend on science on how to deal with it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Speaker I’m sorry- I’m sorry to cut you off. We have to take a break here. I really appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Yes, thank you so much. Stay safe. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You too.

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